It has to be recognised that the food chain has become impoverished (mainly through modern farming practices) with the loss of vital minerals and vitamins. In addition there is more risk of pollutants and pesticides in that food chain. Processed foods reduce some of the basic food nutrients either by heat or by adulteration or by chemical modification. The addition of multivitamins into the diet as supplements is partly to compensate for these dietary factors. Lifestyle and its demands have also to be taken into consideration. Geographical location and sedentary lives have led to lower vitamin D which mainly depends on our exposure to UVB rays from sunlight.
There are other factors which affect the general population as a whole and impact on our health. These include the use of antibiotics and the prevalence of hormonal disruptors. Some food supplements are designed to mitigate some contemporary health impacts. Note: A multivitamin marketed as having’ A-to-Z of everything’ may not be potent enough, so ensure that a good quality supplement is chosen.
There is not a clear pathway for offsetting all the general impacts from modern day living but for most people diet should be the first consideration to improve or maintain general health. The following principles for are suggested as guidelines:
- counting calories is neither healthy nor helpful. Count carbohydrates -if you need to lose body fat
- avoid (or minimise ) starches and refined sugars
- do not use most sweeteners - xylitol & stevia are ok
- many low fat foods can be unhealthy –use full fats
- add a balanced salt to meals not a low salt diet
- every day eat 5 (or more) vegetables plus a little bit of fruit
- raw food provides necessary enzymes- cooked food does not.
- consume ‘good oils’ daily - e.g. cold pressed seed oils and coconut oil- with food
- plan for high protein levels at breakfast
- largely avoid grains (i.e. especially refined wheat, rye etc )
- intermittent fasting diets can sustain health
- avoid pasteurised fruit juices (& concentrates)
NB For those with certain health issues the above diet may require modification
These diets are based on the following:
LOW GL: In general, foods should have low GL (Glycaemic Load) values. This means consuming low quantities of refined sugars, fructose, starches, simple carbohydrates (bread, flour, cake etc.) and fruits. GL is the readiness of a food to be converted to glucose or similar sugars in the body.
NUTRIENT RICH: Preferentially use nutrient dense, or broad spectrum, range of foods (preferably organic where possible). Try to achieve at least 30 % (by weight) of proteins for all meals –especially breakfast. Oily fish, meats, quinoa, and fermented soya are examples.
RAW FOODS: Juicing or making smoothies are good ways to get raw foods into your diet. Only use small amounts of fruit in juices or smoothies but use a range of vegetables, powdered protein, green super-foods and appropriate oils (mixed seed oils, coconut oil or other medium chain triglyceride oils). Use either a juicer or a blender which processes green leafy foods (eg spinach) without degrading the vitamins or enzymes. High speed juicers may result in unsatisfactory juice quality.
OILS:Cold pressed oils (unsaturated fatty acids) and saturated fats are ESSENTIAL for health. Medium chain triglyceride oils add energy and other benefits.
ANTI-NUTRIENTS: Grains, legumes, nuts and seeds all contain phytates, and lectins and other proteins which may act as anti-nutrients (eg reducing minerals from other foods) as well as disrupting digestion and adversely affecting the wall of the intestines. Fermenting, or soaking these foods in water, and to some extent cooking, reduces the quantities of these anti-nutrients.
DAIRY & FIBRE:Butter, in particular, and some soluble fibres increase the levels of butyrates in the intestines which is considered protective to the intestinal wall. Pasture-fed dairy products are preferred. Keep other dairy use to a minimum. Fermented dairy (eg cheeses) reduces the sugar content. The nutrient rich part of milk is the fat portion.
PROTEIN POWDERS:Whey protein derived from milks is low in lactose and thus low in sugars. It is less acidifying. Alternative protein powders can be derived from vegetables or other foods.